Newcastle score friendly wins on eve of Premier League season

Newcastle score friendly wins on eve of Premier League season
Eddie Howe and Vincent Kompany fielded two different starting sides in the 45-minute encounters. (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 July 2022

Newcastle score friendly wins on eve of Premier League season

Newcastle score friendly wins on eve of Premier League season
  • Training ground games took place against Burnley in Portugal
  • Magpies’ final pre-season contests against Benfica, Atalanta and Athletic Bilbao

LISBON: Two Newcastle United XIs recorded four wins over recently relegated Burnley as part of the club’s pre-season schedule in Portugal.

Eddie Howe and Vincent Kompany fielded two different starting sides in the 45-minute encounters, with United winning all four halves at the Portuguese Football Federation’s Cidade do Futebol, near Lisbon, on Saturday.

A Magpies XI skippered by Jamaal Lascelles won their first 45 against a youthful Clarets side with midfielder Joe Willock adding two goals to his summer tally as well as youngster Elliot Anderson netting his first strike since being brought into the senior group this summer. Paraguayan international Miguel Almiron got the fourth as Newcastle won 4-1.

Dan Burn, handed the armband for the first time, led the other Newcastle XI against a more senior Burnley side featuring former England international Jay Rodriguez.

And as Lascelles’ side did on an adjacent pitch, Burn’s XI triumphed, this time with Allan Saint-Maximin scoring the only goal of the game.

With both sides then switching opposition after a short break, Howe’s men picked up where they left off as Callum Wilson scored, then Almiron again found the net to ensure a 2-1 victory. Ian Maatsen scored for Kompany’s Championship outfit.

Matt Ritchie, who is likely to leave the club this summer, got his second goal of pre-season in the other game as a 2-0 victory was rounded off by Jacob Murphy.

This flurry of training ground games comes after United tasted their first defeat of pre-season in Austria against Mainz 05. That 1-0 loss followed on from wins over 1860 Munich and Gateshead, 3-0 and 5-1 respectively.

The Magpies take on Benfica on Tuesday evening in the Eusebio Cup before rounding off pre-season with two near to sold-out games at St James’ Park against Atalanta and Athletic Bilbao.

One footballer who has played the majority of minutes over the summer — and is likely to be a key part of the next campaign — is the 2021/22 player of the season Joelinton.

Howe said: “Joe has come back in a good position, technically and tactically he is very good.

“For me, it is just a case of getting him up to speed and Premier League ready.

“Hopefully he has got another big season ahead of him again.”

Speaking about United failing to add a striker so far this summer, Howe added: “We do have players that have played in that position before.

“Obviously, we have the two strikers (Wood and Wilson), Maxi has played there many times and Joelinton was signed as a forward as you say.

“So within the squad there’s versatile players and this season, more than any, that is going to be more important than ever.”


Belgium hold players’ meeting after poor start to World Cup

Belgium hold players’ meeting after poor start to World Cup
Updated 10 sec ago

Belgium hold players’ meeting after poor start to World Cup

Belgium hold players’ meeting after poor start to World Cup
DOHA: Belgium’s squad held a meeting where players aired their “honest” views about how the team can salvage their World Cup campaign, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said Tuesday.
Belgium arrived in Qatar as the No. 2-ranked team and one of the tournament favorites, but were unconvincing in a 1-0 win over Canada before losing to Morocco 2-0 on Sunday.
The team need to beat Croatia in their final group game on Thursday to guarantee advancing to the last 16.
Courtois and Belgium captain Eden Hazard played down reports of infighting in the squad that surfaced after the Morocco game.
Courtois did say, however, he and his teammates had a frank exchange of views at their training base in Al Rayyan on Monday.
“I did not feel like there were issues, but it is always good to have a meeting all together so everybody can share their thoughts,” the Real Madrid goalkeeper said Tuesday.
“This way, everything is sorted and I think that the best thing we can do is to be honest, because on the pitch we have to fight for each other. So being honest is the most important thing.”
There has been plenty of focus on a seemingly off-the-cuff comment by Kevin De Bruyne, the star of the team, in a pre-tournament interview with British newspaper The Guardian.
In it, De Bruyne was asked if Belgium can win the World Cup and he was quoted as saying: “No chance, we’re too old.” Against Canada, Belgium had six players in their 30s in the starting lineup, with four of them having accrued more than 100 international appearances.
One of them is Jan Vertonghen, who appeared to make a reference to De Bruyne’s remark when speaking after the loss to Morocco.
“Where did it go wrong?” Vertonghen said. “We probably also attack badly because we are too old, that must be it now, surely?”
Hazard said he had spoken to De Bruyne and that his long-time teammate “believes in us more than ever.”
“Sometimes in an interview, you say funny things you don’t really mean,” Hazard said. “I think he just wanted to say that we are older than four years ago. And he is right, we are older.
“Everybody is older. The defenders. Us, the midfielders. Thibaut is older than four years ago, it is what it is. I think Kevin is the first to have confidence in this group, otherwise he would not be here.”
Hazard urged his team to play with “no fear” against Croatia, the 2018 World Cup runner-up.
“In two days, it could be our last game, so we have to play with desire to win,” he said. “If we go together on the pitch, 11 players, we can beat Croatia. I know it is going to be difficult, because every game in this World Cup is difficult, but we can do it. With the team we have, we can do it.”

Mexico face early World Cup exit against Saudi Arabia

Mexico face early World Cup exit against Saudi Arabia
Updated 29 November 2022

Mexico face early World Cup exit against Saudi Arabia

Mexico face early World Cup exit against Saudi Arabia
  • Mexico have reached the round of 16 at the last seven World Cups
  • El Tri sit at the bottom of Group C ahead of a must-win match against Saudi Arabia

DOHA: Mexico are going to have to suddenly find goals — and perhaps even several of them — to extend their knockout-round streak at the World Cup.
Mexico have reached the round of 16 at the last seven World Cups, tied for the longest current streak with Brazil. But in Qatar, El Tri sit at the bottom of Group C ahead of a must-win match against Saudi Arabia on Wednesday at Lusail Stadium.
The last time Mexico played at soccer’s biggest tournament and didn’t advance out of their group was in 1978.
But it’s not quite as simple as winning: El Tri must also get help. They’ll need Poland to beat Lionel Messi and Argentina at the exact same time at Stadium 974.
That’s the easiest way forward for Mexico. Beyond that, it gets complicated. If Mexico do their job and win but Argentina, one of the tournament’s favorites, also win, then goal difference comes into play.
The problem is, Mexico have no goals yet in Qatar.
In fact, El Tri haven’t scored in 384 straight minutes at the World Cup, dating back to their second group match at the 2018 tournament in Russia.
“We believe in our chances. We hold on to our chances,” said veteran Mexico midfielder Andres Guardado, who is appearing in his fifth World Cup. “And obviously we will try until the very end.”
The drought was extended Saturday with a 2-0 loss to Argentina. Neither team scored in the Mexico’s opener against Poland.
Mexico haven’t been eliminated from the group stage since the tournament in Argentina 44 years ago. El Tri didn’t qualify for the 1982 World Cup in Spain, and were banned from the 1990 event in Italy for using overage players at an under-20 tournament.
Since then, Mexico have advanced to the round of 16 in their last seven appearances — but no further. El Tri came to Qatar looking to play in an elusive “quinto partido” — a fifth game — for the first time since Mexico hosted the tournament in 1986.
“In the next game we have no more chances,” Mexico forward Henry Martin said. “We have to score the goals that we can, and not worry what happens in the other game.”
With the lack of goals, the criticism of Mexico coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino grew. He had already been questioned over some of his choices, including his decision to leave all-time leading scorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez off the team.
Hernandez, who now plays for the LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer, scored the team’s last goal in a 2-1 group-stage victory over South Korea in Russia. LAFC forward Carlos Vela, who also fell out of favor in the national team, scored the other.
Martino could be looking for a new job if Mexico doesn’t advance after playing Saudi Arabia, a team that pulled off one of the tournament’s biggest upsets ever when they beat Argentina 2-1 in their opener.
“Not getting through would leave a lot of frustration,” Martino said Tuesday. “We need the goals to win, that is what it takes to keep us here.”
Saudi Arabia couldn’t pull off another upset Saturday when they fell to Poland 2-0. The Saudis reached the round of 16 back in 1994, the team’s World Cup debut, but haven’t made it past the group stage since.
“We will play to the last second of this tournament and we will not give up,” Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard said.
Nawaf Al-Abed sustained an ankle injury against Poland and it was unclear if he would be available against Mexico.


Saudi, Tunisia and Morocco eye Round of 16 as Qatar depart

Saudi, Tunisia and Morocco eye Round of 16 as Qatar depart
Updated 29 November 2022

Saudi, Tunisia and Morocco eye Round of 16 as Qatar depart

Saudi, Tunisia and Morocco eye Round of 16 as Qatar depart
  • It has been a disappointing showing for the hosts but the rest of the Arab contingent go into last round of group matches with hopes of progress alive

It has been, as you would expect, an up and down World Cup so far for its Arab quartet. With Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Morocco all having played two games each, there has been glory, excitement, heartbreak, disappointment and more besides.

Importantly, there is still hope for all but one. At this stage in Russia 2018, all three of the region’s teams — those mentioned above minus the current hosts — all knew they were heading home regardless of the result in the final group match.

QATAR (0 pts)

That is the situation Qatar are now in. It has been a disastrous tournament on the pitch for the Asian champions who can, at least, take heart for the future given the improvements made by their regional rivals. That will be scant consolation for now, however, given the two defeats suffered at the hands of Ecuador and then Senegal.

The opening game was a huge disappointment for the Maroons, as they seemed to freeze in front of the South Americans and the watching world, and were a little fortunate to only lose 2-0. The subsequent performance against the African champions was clearly better but, once again, the hosts found themselves two goals down and gave themselves too much to do, and lost 3-1.

It meant the end of the decade-long dream but the World Cup is not yet over. It was hoped that the match against the Netherlands, a glamour game against a genuine football giant, would actually mean something. It does not in terms of Qatar’s progression from the group but there is still pride to play for as well as the prize of a first ever point or more.

The Dutch need a win to be sure of going through and will want to top the group to avoid a likely clash with England in the second round. That will give the game a competitive edge and will give Qatar a last chance to show the world what they are made of.

SAUDI ARABIA (3 pts)

Saudi Arabia have already done that with a legendary win against the mighty Argentina, still the biggest result of this World Cup. That was followed by a 2-0 defeat against Poland, a game that many felt the Green Falcons deserved more from. Had Salem Al-Dawsari scored a first-half penalty, or the team taken many of their chances, then Herve Renard’s men would be sitting pretty in Group C with four points. Still, had you offered the two-time Asian champions three points from the opening two games two weeks ago, they would certainly have taken it.

Regardless, they still control their own destiny. A win against Mexico means six points and a place in the last 16 for the first time since 1994. It could happen. With tens of thousands of supporters ready to stand behind them once more, anything is possible.

“I hope they won’t give up,” Renard said, “because when you are fans, you need to support your team when it’s a fantastic day, but you also need to support your team to make history during the third game.”

It is not history but mathematics that would determine the standings should there be a draw. It would mean that Saudi Arabia would have four points and finish above El Tri, who have yet to impress, yet to win and yet to even score — and have just one point.

Then it would all be about the other clash. Should Poland, top of the group with four points, defeat Argentina, who have three, then all will be well — but anything else and it comes down to goal difference. If the South Americans and Europeans draw, then the Arab team would lose out by the narrowest of margins, which means that a big win for either team would be beneficial. The dream scenario for Saudi Arabia is victory against Mexico and a draw elsewhere which would mean top spot and the (very likely) avoidance of France in the second round.

TUNISIA (1 pt)

Progress for Saudi in first place would also involve a potential knockout clash with Tunisia. It is a long shot, but stranger things have happened. The Carthage Eagles impressed in the opening Group D game with a 0-0 draw against Denmark but were frustrated by Australia and lost 1-0. Now they have to beat France to have a chance of a first appearance in the second round. It is a big ask but the defending champions are already through and virtually assured of top spot.

Victory alone is not enough but anything other than an Australia win against Denmark, who also have just one point, would give Tunisia a chance. A draw would mean that the victorious North Africans would finish second above the Socceroos as they already have a better goal difference.

A Scandinavian win would mean it would all depend on who won by a bigger margin. The minimum requirement, however, is a famous victory against France. Whatever happens, Jalel Kadri’s men can leave Qatar with much to be proud of. They have shown they can defend, work hard and fight. Now they have to score and win.

MOROCCO (4 pts)

Last, and very much not least, Morocco. Their already famous 2-0 win over Belgium on Sunday put them on four points from the first two games following an opening 0-0 draw with Croatia. It all means that a point against the already eliminated Canada will be enough for a first appearance in the second round since 1986. The North Americans may have lost both games so far but have been competitive. It would, however, be a major disappointment if Morocco slip up with the promised land so close.

Even a loss may not be a disaster. Should Croatia defeat the hitherto unimpressive Belgium, which would not be a surprise, then the Atlas Lions are through whatever happens. A draw in the all-European clash would pit Belgium’s goal difference against Morocco’s.

It is looking good for Morocco, possible for Saudi Arabia, unlikely for Tunisia and over for Qatar, but there are sure to be plenty of twists and turns to come.


World Cup exploits can put football on map in Australia: coach

World Cup exploits can put football on map in Australia: coach
Australia's coach Graham Arnold celebrates after winning the Qatar World Cup Group D match between Tunisia and Australia. AFP
Updated 29 November 2022

World Cup exploits can put football on map in Australia: coach

World Cup exploits can put football on map in Australia: coach
  • Australia are on the cusp of reaching the last 16 for only the second time in their history, matching the achievement of a “golden generation” who made the same stage in 2006
  • Arnold is looking at the bigger picture and what a good run in Qatar will do for football’s popularity in Australia

DOHA: Australia coach Graham Arnold said on Tuesday that his team’s exploits at the Qatar World Cup can “put football on the map” at home and unite the nation.
Australia are on the cusp of reaching the last 16 for only the second time in their history, matching the achievement of a “golden generation” who made the same stage in 2006.
Victory over Euro 2020 semifinalists Denmark on Wednesday will guarantee a spot in the knockout rounds while a draw could also be enough.
Arnold declared that in a sports-mad country where football traditionally comes behind cricket, both rugby codes and Australian rules, the Socceroos “unite the nation” like no other national team.
Arnold said that the 1-0 win over Tunisia which put Australia in pole position to join holders France from Group D in the knockout rounds had put smiles on faces.
But speaking on the eve of the Denmark showdown, Arnold cautioned: “Putting smiles on Australian faces once is not enough, let’s do it some more times.”
Arnold is also looking at the bigger picture and what a good run in Qatar will do for football’s popularity in Australia.
He wants change, including more investment at youth level, to grow the game in the country and hopes this World Cup will inspire future generations in Australia to take up football.
“I’ve said many times: it’s not about me, it’s about the game in Australia,” said Arnold.
“To leave a legacy is huge,” added Arnold, 59, who was assistant coach to Guus Hiddink at the 2006 World Cup, where Australia boasted the likes of Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka and Tim Cahill.
Arnold said the current Socceroos squad — which have plenty of heart but no world stars — had been inspired by the 2006 run.
“This generation, they were 10 years of age watching these guys,” Arnold said.
“When you sit down even now in the lunch room this generation is talking about emulating the 2006 squad and achieving the same goals they saw when they were 10 years old.
“So it’s about putting the game on the map a bit more in Australia.
“But again, there’s so much more work to do... it’s crazy.”


Denmark coach says ‘emotions high’ for must-win World Cup clash

Denmark coach says ‘emotions high’ for must-win World Cup clash
Denmark's coach Kasper Hjulmand speaks during a press conference at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) in Doha. AFP
Updated 29 November 2022

Denmark coach says ‘emotions high’ for must-win World Cup clash

Denmark coach says ‘emotions high’ for must-win World Cup clash
  • “It is a World Cup so emotions are very, very high and football is wonderful — with football you can multiply your feelings by 10, the fear of losing is (also) very, very much involved," said Denmark coach

DOHA: Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand admitted on Tuesday that “emotions are very, very high” for their must-win World Cup clash against a dogged Australia.
With holders France already qualified for the last 16 from Group D, Australia are in pole position to join them in the knockout rounds with three points from two games.
Going into the final round of Group D games on Wednesday, Denmark are third and Tunisia fourth, both with one point.
Euro 2020 semifinalists Denmark must beat Australia and hope Tunisia do not do likewise against France if they are to extend their stay in Qatar.
Hjulmand said “everyone is ready” and he has no fitness concerns, but he conceded the pressure is on for a team who had been expected prior to the tournament to progress along with France.
“It is a World Cup so emotions are very, very high and football is wonderful — with football you can multiply your feelings by 10, the fear of losing is (also) very, very much involved.
“How can we best handle that? These considerations you have to make.”
Denmark were held 0-0 by Tunisia in their opener and then lost 2-1 to a Kylian-Mbappe inspired France to leave them in deep trouble.
Hjulmand knows that the pressure is on, but he backed his players to handle it.
“Of course there is pressure,” said the 50-year-old.
“(But) these players are very, very used to big games and the more experience you have of these kinds of events, from maybe feeling the pressure, you feel pride.
“It is a dream since you were a kid and now you are actually in a position where you can go out and play football for something.
“It is privilege.”